How Garnacho was inspired by Ten Hag's speech

Wednesday 27 March 2024 19:00

Manchester United forward Alejandro Garnacho ticked off another big career milestone on Tuesday evening, by making his first senior international start for Argentina in their 3-1 victory over Costa Rica in Los Angeles.

We've grown accustomed to good Garnacho news, because it's peppered our 2023/24 season, but it's easy to forget that it's less than a year since the teenager signed a new contract and was given some clear and fairly demanding objectives by Erik ten Hag.
On that day at Carrington last April, the Dutchman congratulated the player and those closest to him, but told him to forget the past, focus on the future and, most importantly, keep on grafting.
Behind the scenes of Garnacho's big day Video

Behind the scenes of Garnacho's big day

A Day In The Life | Here's another chance to watch Garna's new-contract day, featuring an EPIC speech from Ten Hag...

“I hope and I think this new contract is an inspiration and a motivation to do even better,” began the boss.

“This is the start; a new start, a signed contract, and tomorrow? New roles, new aims and go.”
If you take a look at some of the player's achievements in the 11 breathless months since, which we've listed below, it's fair to say the manager's words delivered a message that was heard loud and clear...

While Tuesday marked his maiden start for La AlbicelesteAlejandro actually earned his first cap last summer, on 15 June 2023. Then just 18, Garnacho came on as a substitute in the 74th minute, replacing Nicolas Gonzalez during the world champions' 2-0 friendly win over Australia in Beijing.
The first Premier League goal of Alejandro's career was memorable enough – a stoppage-time winner at Craven Cottage in 2022 – but his opening strike in the 2023/24 competition took the proverbial biscuit. Early in our game at Goodison Park last November, Garnacho turned a floated Diogo Dalot cross into one of the most spectacular bicycle kicks in living memory. It took the league's Goal of the Month prize and is surely in the conversation for the greatest finish ever seen in the English top flight.
Garna's seven goals this season Video

Garna's seven goals this season

Without doubt, Alejandro Garnacho is one of this season’s top performers! Watch his seven goals so far here…

Ten Hag called for Garnacho to continue his improvement, and the youngster has already made more appearances this season (38) than he did in the whole of 2022/23 (34). But the progress is deeper than those figures reflect. Last term, Alejandro made his name as someone who could turn games from the bench, but did not quite deliver the same impact when starting. This season? The Madrid-born marvel has started every match since 1 November. Twenty-six consecutive games. No outfield player has made more appearances for United in 2023/24.
Garnacho is the only Red to win two consecutive Player of the Month prizes so far this season, having done so in November and December. The latter month saw Alejandro deliver a Man-of-the-Match turn in a thrilling 3-2 win over Aston Villa, in which he scored twice and had another effort ruled out for a narrow offside decision. It was arguably the most important victory of the season so far – since that win, United have won nine from 13, which is our best run of the campaign.

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Perhaps Garnacho's most beloved trait, as far as United fans are concerned, is his willingness. A willingness to play anywhere, to attack whenever possible, to keep on going as long as the game is live. The aforementioned Aston Villa game saw Garnacho switch to the right flank – a position he was unfamiliar with – to allow Marcus Rashford to revert to his favoured left. And he made it look ridiculously easy. Since then, his fluency from that position has given Ten Hag greater tactical flexibility, and underlined Garnacho's growing maturity and a hunger to affect the game whatever role he is given.
We conclude with Tuesday night's milestone. Being selected for international duty is always a proud moment for a young player – Kobbie Mainoo earned his own first start for England on the same night – but let's not forget that Argentina are world champions. Making their starting XI is about as tough as it gets. Alongside Garna in the starting line-up in LA were Chelsea mega-buy Enzo Fernandez, Liverpool fulcrum Alexis Mac Allister, plus former Real Madrid, PSG and United winger Angel Di Maria and Manchester City forward Julian Alvarez.
It's been a superb ride for Garnacho thus far in 2023/24 – let's hope there are a few more moments to savour before the season reaches its conclusion.